I believe that a mother’s love has no limits.
Julia Drummond’s patriotic maternalism symbolizes the commitment of Canadian women to help those in need during wartime. Mothers were torn between encouraging their sons to go to war – and the possibility of their never coming home.
Julia Drummond cared deeply for the plight of Canadian soldiers and established the Maple Leaf Club in London to be a gathering place during their battlefield leave. She created the Canadian Red Cross’ Information Bureau so that families could know the fate of their loved ones recuperating in overseas hospitals. Her son Guy was killed in 1915 at the Second Battle of Ypres.
– Viveka Melki
Julia Drummond (1861-1942)
Tragedy struck when her son Guy was killed at Langemark in Belgium at the Second Battle of Ypres in April, 1915. He was 27 years old. He died trying to rally French colonial troops fleeing a strange green vapour, the first mustard gas attack of the war. They flooded the trenches occupied by Canadian soldiers under his command. Drummond tried to calm them in his near perfect French. Guy Drummond was described by a family friend as having everything, “charm, seductive looks, the gift for easy talk that presaged a great orator.” He was married just months before the outbreak of war but would not live to see the birth of his only child. His death contributed to a debate that raged in Quebec throughout the war over the use of French in the Canadian military. Drummond was fluently bilingual and had perfected his French by studying at the Sorbonne in Paris. The tragic circumstances of his death showcased how few officers in the Canadian army could command their troops in both English and French.
Montreal society would have pardoned Julia Drummond if the death of her cherished son led her to withdraw from her causes and retreat into the privacy of mourning. Instead it seemed to drive her to do more and extend her philanthropy and organizational skills to serve as many Canadian soldiers as possible. She almost singlehandedly created the Maple Leaf Club for Canadian servicemen in England and worked tirelessly for the Canadian Red Cross to improve the lot of soldiers away from home. Wartime portraits show Julia Drummond to be weary and drawn. No wonder, because her inexhaustible energy was entirely devoted to the service of others.
Learn more about Guy and Julia Drummond:
Guy Drummond was memorialized by artist R. Tait McKenzie in a bronze statuette that is in the collection of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. In Montreal, a school took his name. Julia Drummond has been written about extensively as a key figure in Canadian women’s history and in articles about the Canadian Red Cross and the Maple Leaf Club during World War 1.
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Conservation issues for George Stephen Cantlie’s botanical specimens to be displayed in the WAR Flowers exhibit
Contractual expertise by Céline Arseneault, botanist and archivist (retired botanist and librarian at the Montréal Botanical Garden) May 2016
- The dried flowers specimens had been conserved pressed in the original letters/papers/envelopes for nearly 100 years, with one exception where a later envelope included a flower.
- Some flowers had pieces of fabrics or textiles attached to them.
- Some flowers had rubbed off or left their print on the papers.
- The flowers were dry, brittle and in some cases very fragile and broken in pieces (included in the paper/envelopes).
- Some envelopes included more than one specimen and more than one plant species.
- The flowers hold historical value but no biodiversity value like scientific herbarium pieces because they were not documented as such.
- Botanical identification has been made in accordance with the letters’ indications (dates, locations) and material available (mostly flowers only, visual colours, few leaves) for tentative scientific genus identification.
- The flowers have historical significance in the context of Cantlie’s archives, as a part of the correspondence addressed mainly to his daughter Celia (or exceptionally wife/other daughters). They are seen as item “objects” in the scope of the Rules for Archival Description by the Canadian Council of Archives:
- The primary purpose of the present assessment was to avoid altering the integrity of these objects.
- The accompanying papers, letters and envelopes bring major significant value (dates, paper headings, postal stamps, annotations, writings, etc.) to the objects. See link above.
Original plan for the exhibit: Inclusion of flowers into resin pastilles
The original exhibit proposal included stand‐alone encasing flowers into transparent polymer‐type resin (“pastilles”), each one to be temporarily encased in a crystal sculpture for display purposes.
Conservation issues regarding acrylic resin encasing
Transparent acrylic‐type or polymer‐type resin can be used successfully for fresh botanical specimens, however:
- Dried botanical specimens are organic and brittle.The brittleness accentuates with dryness, age and manipulation. Humidity and change of environment can cause rapid deterioration by moulds, dust mites or otherwise. Older pigments and botanical specimens themselves are also more fragile to heat and light. https://www.nps.gov/museum/publications/conserveogram/01‐03.pdf — http://conservation.myspecies.info/node/35
- Encasing in acrylic‐type resin implies a heating process which creates static energy as well as thermal energy. Statics augments brittleness and specimens risk “exploding” into the resin.
- Because of their historical value, there were no available sample specimens that could be used as an experiment to validate the previous statement.
- At this point, where flowers have already been subjected to change of colours due to time, we can assume that polymer encasing would accelerate the discolouration.
- No studies are available regarding the long‐term conservation (discolouration, deterioration) of the acrylic resin itself.
- This type of encasing is not generally recommended for archival or historical conservation as it alters the specimens.
- This type of encasing is NOT recommended in the conservation literature for older, organic material, such as botanical specimens and papyrus (references available on request).
For these reasons and in regard to further deterioration of the specimens, encasing in acrylic resin was not recommended for the Cantlie’s flowers.
Conservation issues regarding stand‐alone two‐glass panes encasing
Even pressed, the dried flowers have thickness, some more than others, and may not be encased easily in two panes of glass (or acrylic) with a frame moulding, particularly because of their brittleness and for practical and esthetic concerns (e.g type of transparent glue applied on the glass, type of moulding, etc.).
- As stated above, the dried flowers seen as objects have no significant historical value when separated from the archival fonds and their accompanying pieces.
- Archival conversation aims to preserve all parts of an item (or a historical record) together.
- Producing a series of botanical specimens in stand-alone frames would contradict archival conversation.
- Float mounting thus included a non-acid paper in an off-white texture and colour.
- Stable polymer archival glue was recommended by the Marie Victorin Herbarium of Université de Montréal to be used both on flowers, which we use also for the papers records.
- High-standard museum-recommended frame acrylic, in a non glare acrylic glazing matte finish, was used instaid of glass after studying the travel requirements of the exhibit and to minimize reflection for glare-free viewing.
- The pre-layouts were realized by Céline Arseneault and Viveka Melki in the Spring of 2016 and each layout was documented: botanical identification, measurements and text transcription of each record in a preliminary archival description of the Cantlie Fonds.
- 17 final layouts (including 19 pieces) werw then frames by the experienced framer at « Au Coin des Artistes » in Montreal under the supervision of Céline Arseneault for the purpose of conservation and to be included as the main raison d’être of the War Flowers exhibit.